Did you know that residential structures emit more greenhouse gases than cars? If you combined all building types inclusive of commercial, institutional, industrial and residential you come up with almost 50% of all greenhouse gases emitted! Vehicles which always seem to get the focus of our problems only make up for approximately 10% of all greenhouse gases.
What is a greenhouse gas? It is any gas contributing to the greenhouse effect. Oh, that clears it up! Wait what is the greenhouse effect? It is actually a naturally occurring process that helps warm the earth. Then what is so bad about it? It’s not bad if we were not enhancing the effect. With the abundance of greenhouse gases being emitted, we are causing more heat to be trapped in our atmosphere than would naturally be occurring which in turn is heating up the planet.
So if you live in a home, which I assume everyone reading this does, there are simple things you can do to make an impact. Some of the obvious ones are; buy energy efficient appliances, use less hot water – wash your clothes in warm or cold water rather than hot water, turn up the thermostat in the summer a few degrees and down a few in the winter to use less energy and always turn off the lights, computers and electrical devices when not in use.
You can have a major impact by changing your light bulbs to LED bulbs. According to the EPA, there are about four billion sockets in the United States with old inefficient light bulbs. If they were all changed to LED we could save 1.5 billion dollars annually in energy costs. Not only do we get the cost savings we would prevent 17 billion pounds of annual carbon pollution. On average a car emits 6 tons of carbon pollution per year so that 17 billion is the equivalent of getting rid 1.4 million cars in the United States alone. The government required the lighting industry to make their incandescent bulbs more energy efficient but they still do not come anywhere near the lifespan and efficiency of a CFL (compact fluorescent lighting) or a LED (light-emitting diode). In general, today’s incandescent bulb will last 2,500 hours, but a CFL will last 10,000 hours and LED lasts 25,000 hours! Sounds like a one-time switch to me! So how many people does it take to change a light bulb and make a difference? One and that’s you!